Triple ROC king Mattias Ekström returns
Three-time ROC ‘Champion of Champions’ Mattias Ekström will make his return to the Race Of Champions at this year’s event in Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena.
The Swede has won two DTM championships for Audi in 2004 and 2007. But he has proved himself to be an all-rounder who is equally comfortable in all the cars used by ROC – due in part to eight starts in the World Rally Championship and a recent run in a NASCAR. An instant superstar in the stadiums of the Race Of Champions, Ekström has reached at least one final in every year he has competed, starting in 2005 when he partnered Tom Kristensen to ROC Nations Cup glory for Scandinavia.
Ekström won the individual ‘Champion of Champions’ title on his latest appearance at Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium in 2009, beating Michael Schumacher in the Grand Final (pictured). This was his third victory after similar success at the Stade de France in Paris (2006) and London’s Wembley Stadium (2007). But he was unable to defend his title last year in Düsseldorf due to a clash of dates with his ‘day job’ at the DTM series. Now he is keen to make up for lost time on December 3-4, 2011.
Ekström said: “I have many happy memories from the Race Of Champions so I’m delighted to be returning this year. I was born in the Swedish countryside and drove lots of different cars as a boy, while I’ve since been lucky to race many good touring cars, sportscars and rally cars. That’s what helps me at this event and I’ve had some good results, beating Michael Schumacher in two Grand Finals and Sébastien Loeb in another. Driving in such lofty company is always a huge pleasure so the event has become a major highlight of my season. It was hard to have to watch the action from afar in 2010 so it didn’t take me long to agree to come back.”
Race organizer Fredrik Johnsson said: “Mattias is one of the most successful drivers in the history of the Race Of Champions, with three overall titles in the last five years. That means it is always important for us to have him in the field – and he will again start as one of the favorites for success in 2011. Rest assured that even the very biggest names from F1 and world rally will want to avoid him in the draw come December in Düsseldorf.”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season competition that brings together the world’s greatest drivers from all motor sport’s disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and NASCAR – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery on a specially constructed parallel track. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 3 December, before the individual Race Of Champions takes place on Sunday 4 December.
Ekström is the third driver to be confirmed so far for 2011, joining German Formula 1 superstars Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, who will again race in front of their home fans.